Gastronomy And Great Spas: Four Hotel And Resort Spas With Luxurious Culinary Tie-Ins

Spas have long been mixing natural and food-quality ingredients into their treatment offerings, but spa cuisine menus have often been relegated to the true destination spa resorts – the Miravals and Canyon Ranches of the travel world. While these spots are lovely, travelers often don’t have time to get away for a week of relaxation. Today, however, more and more hotels are offering healthy cuisine options to tie in with their spa menus, allowing travelers seeking relaxation for an hour or an afternoon to enjoy high-quality yet healthy options. Here are a few of our favorite easy escapes, below:

The Cornelia Spa at The Surrey
The Cornelia Spa, the newest addition to The Surrey in NYC is now offering guests small bites at The Botanical Bar, an experience integrated into the spa’s “Relaxation Library” to create a destination within the spa for lingering, lounging and experiencing tasty bites and beautiful books. Guests are served a sweet and savory refreshment that are flavorful, healthful and inspired by the botanical ingredients in the Cornelia products including herbs, flowers, fruits and spices. Post treatment, enjoy a sweet treat – The Surrey’s Signature Botanical Cookie with a lavender drizzle. The savory tasting will rotate to include amuse bouche delicacies such as orange-spiced salted almonds and a selection of orange-minted olives.

The Spa at The Mandarin Oriental, Boston Located just off prime shopping on Newbury Street, The Mandarin Oriental Boston is a top pick for leisure and business travelers alike. Those looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of city living can enjoy pampering treatments at the 16,000-square-foot spa, and head to the spa cafe for post treatment lunches or snacks.
Lake Austin Spa at Lake Austin Spa Resort
This well-known spa offers a number of culinary inspired treatments, including a number of body treatments that use local and food-based ingredients. Test the “Best of the Southwest” scrub using local mesquite, jojoba oil and pure sugar, plus a ginger tea tree mango butter foot cream or a pear and fig body polish with turmeric root. Don’t worry if you’re hungry post treatment – the resort is also well known for their superb spa cuisine, much of which is made using Texas-based ingredients or sourced from the resort’s own gardens onsite.

Fairmont’s Willow Stream Spa Brand
The energizing Willow Stream Spas, the signature spa brand of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, offer spa goers a range of signature and local spa treatments but also places a strong emphasis on food. All spa destinations offer Spa Bento Box spa cuisine as part of Fairmont’s Lifestyle Cuisine, prepared with non-processed food, as healthy, locally grown and organic as possible. They also offer Lifestyle Cuisine Plus, a new menu available upon request catering to spa guests with specific diet-dependent conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and gluten free needs, as well as unique dietary preferences including macrobiotic, raw and vegan diets.

Atlanta loses a Rosewood, gains a Mandarin Oriental

Atlanta is losing its signature Rosewood hotel, the Mansion on Peachtree, and gaining Mandarin Oriental when the hotel changes management in May of this year. The hotel will be rebranded and operated by Mandarin Oriental, but no major overhauls of the hotel are planned. The hotel will now be called The Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta.

The Peachtree area hotel is primed to get new restaurants (Del Friscos, according to the Atlanta SkyRise blog), as well as a transition to a signature Mandarin Oriental Spa. The hotel’s 25 private residences will also be rebranded as Mandarin Oriental Residences.

Forbes Travel Guide reports that Mandarin had planned a hotel in Midtown in 2007, which failed after the economic downturn.

Luxury travel: Presidential Suite at Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC

There’s no denying that power is the top player in Washington DC. From the White House to the Capitol Building to the endless red leather, cherry wood restaurants that have housed heads of state for martini lunches over the years. Still, Washington DC has a few hidden gems worthy of an ambassador or two.

Mandarin Oriental Washington DC‘s recently renovated presidential suite is anything but ‘under the radar’ in this high-powered city. On a brief stop to Washington DC, I had the opportunity to explore the 3,500-square-foot space and overwhelmed by the idea of high-level meetings happening in his luxe space.The Presidential Suite in the Mandarin Oriental Washington DC offers 3,500-square-feet of space for a nightly rate of $10,000. The three-bedroom suite comes complete with a living room, kitchen, full bathrooms and separate dining area, but it’s the “great room” that steals the show.

The massive room offers enough seating for a cabinet meeting (or a little less) and to help inspire the attendees, features views of The Washington Monument, Lincoln Monument and Jefferson Memorial, and on clear days you can see all the way to the Capitol Building.

The adjacent study which connects the living room to the bedroom has been made into a cozy annex for respite and intimate meetings. A small nook off the master bathroom has enough space for a treadmill – the perfect accessory for a jetlagged traveler needing to work off some energy.


Chinese New Year: Fun ways to celebrate the ancient tradition

Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Known as “Spring Festival,” the festival begins on the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar and ends with Lantern Festival, celebrated on the 15th day.

This year, the year of the Rabbit, is said to be a more peaceful and placid year offering a nice break from the fast-paced year of the Tiger in 2010. The year of the Rabbit is a good time to reflect, rest and plan for the coming year. Amid the lavish festivities and parties that take place around China and in Chinatowns around the world, the Chinese New Year also celebrates some fun and quirky traditions.

I caught up with my friends at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong to learn a little more about what the Chinese New Year means to them, and get some interesting facts and stats on how to properly celebrate Chinese New Year, no matter where you reside.

  • The most common term used over the Chinese New Year is “KUNG HEI FAT CHOY” which translates to “Congratulations and To Be Prosperous” in the coming year.
  • Traditional Chinese families and companies will invite in a Lion Dance Troupe as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Lunar New Year and remove any bad spirits. During the ‘Lion Dance’ performance, the Lion will perform the traditional custom of “Cai Ching”, meaning plucking a lettuce with his mouth, which is normally hung from the ceiling, which he will then chew and spit out at the end of the dance, meant to symbolize “More Prosperity” in the coming year. (The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong will be hosting a Lion Dance performance on Feb. 3 in their lobby.)
  • Did you know that during the Chinese New Year celebrations you are supposed to arrange “New Year Visits” to close relatives and friends? During these visits the elders will give their younger guests, who are not married, a red packet with money inside. The red color of the envelope symbolizes good luck and is supposed to fight off evil spirits.
  • The God of Wealth plays a significant role during every Chinese New Year and will deliver Lai-See packets with money, or chocolate money, inside to promote Prosperity in the coming year.
  • Fireworks are an essential part of the Chinese New Year celebrations – in ancient China, it was believed these fireworks or firecrackers drove away evil spirits. The fireworks and firecrackers are rolled up in red paper – the color of luck. This year, a fireworks extravaganza will take place on Feb. 4 and will light the skies of Victoria Harbour.
  • Kumquat trees, narcissus and peonies are believed to bring prosperity; peach blossoms add fire to romance, while tangerine plants, with their leaves intact, help to ensure long-lasting relationships and ‘fruitful’ marriages. These plants are flowers are commonly distributed during Chinese New Year.
  • A Chinese Candy Box plays a significant role in the Chinese New Year. People prepare candy boxes with fruits and candies to offer good luck and good wishes to their loved ones. The Chinese Candy Box is filled with candy items such as Lotus root which represents strong family ties; Kumquats for prosperity; Coconut for friendship; Peanuts for longevity and Longan for happiness.
  • Red nail polish is very popular during the Chinese New Year because it symbolizes happiness and good luck.

Now that you’re armed with some of the favorite traditions of Chinese New Year, celebrate in style and enjoy the festivities, wherever in world you’re traveling.

Daily Pampering: Mandarin Oriental Miami offers private beach experience

Life’s a beach at the Mandarin Oriental Miami. Their new Oasis Beach Club combines South Beach‘s already spectacular white sand beaches with a private cabana offering. Whether you’re looking for fun in the sun relaxation for the whole family, spa serenity or a total techie retreat, there’s a package just for you.

Available by rent for the whole or half-day ($150 and up), the cabanas include a personal beach butler, welcome oshibori towels, Evian bottled water and exotic fruit platter. Cabanas are stocked with amenities including a flat-screen TV, mini refrigerator, sunblock, iPad and Powermat electric charger usable on most electronic devices.

We’d suggest you upgrade to the Spa Serenity package ($600), which adds on two 50-minute aromatherapy massages, green iced tea, a spa lunch bento box for two and cool mist sevices throughout the day.

We just have one more question – where are our peeled grapes?

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